September 22, 2011 by
Looking to plant a church or join a church plant in New England? You may be interested in the Plant New England conference near Boston, October 10–11. The theme is “gospel-driven men planting gospel-driven churches” and it’s open to everyone—men and women, pastors and church members. If you’re interested in planting churches in the least-churched area of the nation, you’re invited.
The conference is organized by The Gospel Coalition, in partnership with 9Marks, the NETS Institute for Church Planting, and Sovereign Grace Ministries. Mark Dever and Wes Pastor will give main-session messages. Mark Prater, Sovereign Grace Ministries’ regional leader for the northeast U.S., will teach a breakout session and participate in a panel discussion.
Registration is $75. You can find more info and register at www.plantnewengland.com. (A word to the thrifty: conference hotel discounts end on September 26.)
September 19, 2011 by
Hi folks. The board took a four-day retreat last week and finished on Friday afternoon. We returned home tired but filled with hope about what God is teaching us and the progress we are seeing. Here are some highlights:
- We spent time reviewing some of the feedback sent to us from the pastors and people in Sovereign Grace Ministries as well as from outside this ministry. We are very grateful for those who have cared enough to convey their experiences and concerns. And we are encouraged that even in these challenging times, there are hopeful signs and many evidences of God’s grace. Please continue to pray that we will better understand where we need to change. And keep the feedback coming!
- We spent a good portion of Wednesday with the pastoral team of Covenant Life Church. The SGM board arranged this meeting because we wanted to discuss various matters of importance and to better understand the unique challenges this season is creating for the members of Covenant Life. We love these men and look forward to connecting again.
- We spent three sessions working on two things: the adjudication process for C.J. (including matters like panel selection and proposed issues for adjudication), and the group reconciliation process that Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR) is leading us through. Ted Kober, president of AOR, is leading our group reconciliation process and joined us to discuss plans for it. We’ll announce details about that by the end of this month. I have to tell you: our faith is growing for what God will accomplish in us and for us through this.
Just one last thing: please pray for the board. These guys, who already shoulder significant responsibility in local churches, stepped forward in this dizzying season to accept the burden of interim leadership for Sovereign Grace. Every time we meet like this Pete Greasley flies over from the UK, Craig from Dallas, Rick from Minnesota, Aron from Orlando… well, you get the point. These guys give it all because they love the pastors and people of Sovereign Grace Ministries. They believe our best days are ahead of us. And you know what? I do too. That’s why it’s a privilege to be serving the churches we love.
September 13, 2011 by
Categories: Church planting | Donor updates
Earlier this summer we confirmed plans with Sovereign Grace churches for two church plants: one in Miami, Florida, and another just outside of San Diego, California.
Sovereign Grace Church Miami is being sent out from Palm Vista Community Church, and they plan to have their first service on January 15, 2012. They’ve been thinking hard about how to use a bilingual model to reach both Spanish- and English-speakers in one of the least-churched cities in the country, and we're excited to see how God uses their efforts. If you'd like to know more, you can watch a video with lead pastor Jose Prado at Palm Vista's website or follow their updates via Facebook.
The church plant near San Diego (in East County) will be sent out in mid-to-late 2012 from Grace Church in San Diego, which also planted Grace Church in Frisco, Texas, several years ago. The lead pastor for the plant is traveling a bit farther, however: Tab Trainor, formerly the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church (Oswego, IL), is moving to California to lead the team. Tab planted Sovereign Grace Church in 1998 and handed off the senior pastor role to Josh Fenska at the beginning of this month.
We’re grateful for the faith and sacrifice of these sending churches and the planting teams. And beyond that, we look forward to seeing what role these new churches will play in our shared mission in the future. If you want us to email you when either church is ready to begin public meetings, sign up at our Join a Church Plant page and note your location as being in Miami or San Diego. We will contact you with details when the launch date nears.
Both of these churches are being assisted by start-up grants via the domestic portion of our annual Mission Fund. If you're a Mission Fund donor, thank you for helping to make these two new churches a reality. They are both a work of partnership among Sovereign Grace churches and would not be happening without your prayers and generosity.
September 7, 2011 by
Categories: Pastors College | Resources
We’re marking the launch of the new Pastors College class by introducing you to a few visiting professors from recent years. Last week we shared an interview with Dr. Andreas Köstenberger. Today we meet another intriguing professor, Dr. John D. Woodbridge.
Day-by-day, Dr. Woodbridge serves as the research professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, where he has taught since 1970. In the past, among many things, he has served as a senior editor at Christianity Today.
As impressive as details are themselves, they comprise only a slice of a very interesting life. Here are a few other facts I’ve learned about this man over the years:
- Woodbridge has lectured on French history, in French, at the Sorbonne in Paris.
- Woodbridge taught himself to play the piano and in 1965 he wrote a score he titled "Sans Vous" ("Without You"). The score was ostensibly stolen by a composer and used in the 1983 TV mini-series "The Winds of War." The theme song sounded oddly familiar to Woodbridge when he heard it. In 1991 a federal jury in L.A. determined that the composer had in fact plagiarized his song. High praise! He still composes (but not regularly).
- Woodbridge is a descendant of Jonathan Edwards.
- His grandmother was a first cousin to Woodrow Wilson and introduced Woodrow to his first wife.
- His father, Charles, served on the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary in the very early days and taught church history.
- His father was a personal friend of J. Gresham Machen and served as one of Machen's trial lawyers. In his will, Machen left Charles with money and his personal copy of the trial records.
- His father led a World War II hero to the Lord. As thanks, the officer gave him Hitler's personal pistol, taken from the Fuhrer's apartment in Munich. With Maurice Possley, a Pulitzer winning journalist, Woodbridge wrote and recently released the book Hitler in the Crosshairs: A G.I.'s Story of Faith and Courage about the soldier who had accepted the suicidal mission to take out Hitler in his Munich apartment. The pistol given to Charles was later stolen from the Woodbridge family home in Savannah, Georgia, was sold around, and is presently in a private collection in California.
The Woodhouse family history is remarkable as Dr. Woodbridge’s gifts as a historian himself. We are grateful to have his experience and expertise in the Pastors College once again when he teaches Church History 2 (May 15–18).
A few years back we took the opportunity between classes to discuss matters of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture — one area of his expertise (among many!). He is the author of three valuable books on this topic:
In the studio we asked him:
- What threats to Scripture most concern you today?
- What are the pastoral implications of the doctrine of inspiration of Scripture?
- Describe for us how inerrancy has been debated in church history.
- Who are some pastors in church history who functionally modeled a high view of Scripture?
- For a pastor who lacks a conviction about the power and authority of Scripture, what would you say to him?
You can download or listen to the 15-minute audio recording here:
September 2, 2011 by
Categories: Pastors College | Resources
This week classes began for the 2011–2012 class of the Pastors College class. And each year the PC curriculum includes classes by experienced seminary professors who are invited to teach on targeted subjects. Last year one of the highlights was hearing Dr. D.A. Carson lecture on the Epistle to the Hebrews to a room full of nearly 100 pastors from Sovereign Grace churches. This year we are honored to have Dr. Thomas Schreiner teaching a course on one of the Pauline Epistles and Dr. Steve Nichols teaching Church History 3 (a course that may or may not include a little history of Blues music).
With the start of the new year we thought you may be interested to hear a few interviews we’ve done with visiting lecturers in previous years.
Today we’re posting a conversation we recorded with Dr. Andreas Köstenberger, Senior Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology and Director of Ph.D. Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2009 he traveled to the Pastors College to teach a course on the Gospel of John, one of his specialties which is evident in some of his book projects:
- A Theology of John's Gospel and Letters: The Word, the Christ, the Son of God (Zondervan, 2009)
- John, in the Baker Exegetical Commentary series (Baker, 2004)
- Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective (Baker, 2002)
- Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel, in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series (IVP, 2008)
During a break in his course lectures we pulled Dr. Köstenberger into the recording studio and asked him questions about the Gospel of John, its theology, themes, and structure. Questions included:
- What is it about the Gospel of John that has led you to do so much work on it?
- What are the similarities and differences between the Gospel of John and the synoptic gospels?
- What are some distinctive themes in the Gospel of John?
- You say that John uses different literary devices to communicate his theology. In what ways?
- How is the Gospel of John structured?
You can download or listen to the recording of the 20-minute conversation with Dr. Köstenberger here: